THE POWER OF IMMERSION (MY STAY AT THE VILLAGE CAVE HOTEL)

Quick History Lesson

“Cappadocia” stems from the Old Persian word Katpatuka, which means “Land of Beautiful Horses.” The area, located in central Anatolia (Turkey), has a rich geological and cultural history that I had the chance to explore on my recent trip to the country.

Cappadocia’s history spans many powerful empires including the Hittites, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans, and is associated with the early days of Christianity. Early Christians dug out thousands of caves – first in order to live out a more simple, monastic life, and later to hide from Muslim invaders.

The Digs

I stayed at the Village Cave Hotel, which was based on these ancient caves, and my experience was truly remarkable. I’ve never stayed in a space that captured the culture and uniqueness of the locale quite like this.

The Village Cave Hotel 1
Village Cave 3
Village Cave 4

After my brief but wonderful stay here, I felt compelled to dissect and analyze just what makes the Village Cave Hotel the perfect place to stay in Cappadocia.

Here are my findings.

Draw on Local Uniqueness

Some of my most memorable experiences while traveling involved being completely immersed in the culture that is unique to the place I’m visiting. At the Village Cave Hotel, this is exactly how I felt.

The story I got from the main caretaker was that the cave had been passed down for generations in the owner’s family, and had originally been used for livestock. Later, Cappadocia saw a spike in tourism, and the family decided to convert the space into a bed & breakfast. The original design was a carbon copy of the ancient caves in the area, and the original pick-axe marks were still visible!

Aside from the architecture, the space was decorated with Hittite and Ottoman style ceramics, and dim lighting that really pulled you back in time.

Village Cave 3
Hittite Wine
Ottoman Plate

I felt like I was living and breathing the same air as the ancients. It was awesome!

Authentic Interactions

A well designed space is great, but as humans we crave something more. Especially when we are in a new place, we need to interact. Interaction takes us to the next level of cultural immersion, where we get to understand the different cultural nuances of the locals – and often become surprised at our similarities!

The hosts at the Village Cave were a couple from a small nearby town called Cavusin – a town I would have never known about and ended up exploring after their recommendation. It was a great escape from the beaten touristic paths of Cappadocia.

We had tea together in the lobby several times throughout my stay as they went on to tell me about the history of the cave and their family.

Do one thing really really well

The “breakfast” in “bed & breakfast” is often a loose term. Usually I’m satisfied if I can get anything fresh, and am not entirely surprised if all I have to break my fast is a measly piece of toast with butter and coffee. However, and I don’t say this lightly, at the Village Cave I think I had my best breakfast of all time – twice!

The caretaker’s wife prepared us a classic Turkish “Koy Kahvaltisi” (village breakfast). The spread included fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden, olives, all kinds of cheese, fresh honey (the kind with the honeycomb still in it), Gozleme (Turkish pancakes), and tea. It was over the top.

Although the rest of the service was no different than your standard bed & breakfast, we left with our expectations blown away.

I realized: if you can meet people’s expectations everywhere and then do one thing incredibly well and over the top, they’ll leave with a truly memorable experience.

What are some of your travel experiences where you felt completely immersed in the local culture? Is there anything you do at your listing to provide that immersive experience to your guests?